If you live in Baton Rouge, or any other large city for that matter, you are probably very familiar with the daily reports of car accidents. There is a good chance that you have even been in one yourself.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 30,000 people die in motor vehicle accidents every year. Many deaths and severe injuries could be prevented with the right precautions. We all need to do our part to make responsible choices on the road.
Common Motor Vehicle Injuries
Neck and back injuries like whiplash and herniated disc are very common after a car accident due to the force of impact. Soreness is also very common, even in minor accidents, because people tend to tense up if they see that the vehicle is headed for impact. Even if there are no fractures, neck and back injuries from car accidents can take months to resolve and often require ongoing treatment.
Fractures are another common injury caused by motor vehicle accidents. I treat complex fractures from traumatic car accidents quite often in the emergency room. Depending on the complexity of the fracture, there are several different ways a fracture may be treated.
Our bones can repair themselves, but a fracture must be set into place so that the bones heal properly. Simpler fractures can often be held into place with a cast or brace while the bone heals. However, complex fractures may require metal rods, pins, screws, and/or plates to hold the fracture in place. These fixation devices are positioned during a surgical procedure, and are often left in place after the bone heals.
Preventing Motor Vehicle Accidents
Injuries from motor vehicle accidents can take months to recover from, and some damage may even be permanent. We may not be able to prevent all accidents, but we can all do our part to keep the roads as safe as possible and limit distractions while driving.
Distractions are a major factor in car accidents. According to the NHTSA, many of the things we commonly do while driving can be potentially distracting. Do you engage in any of these driving distractions?
- Having a conversation with passengers while driving
- Changing stations or adjusting volume on your car stereo
- Eating and/or drinking (even non-alcoholic beverages)
- Talking on the phone and/or texting while driving
- Attending to children in the back seat
- Using a portable music player
If you have ever done any of these things while driving, you aren’t alone. The NHTSA says that these are the most commonly-performed driving distractions. Cell phone use alone is the cause of 28% of motor vehicle accidents, according to a 2010 report by the National Safety Council. Avoiding cell phone use and texting while driving could go a long way toward preventing car accidents.
Alcohol use is also the cause of an alarming number of car accidents. Data from 2009 indicates that nearly 11,000 people were killed in alcohol-related auto accidents. If you plan on going out and drinking, always have a designated driver, take a cab home, or plan to spend the night. Even if you think you are okay to drive, it isn’t worth the risk.
Another way to keep yourself safe on the road is to always wear your seatbelt. Failure to wear a seatbelt often results in more serious injuries or death. In high-impact accidents, passengers not wearing seatbelts are often ejected from the vehicle, typically through the windshield, which increases the chances of fatal injuries. If you have any young children in the car, you also need to make sure that they are in the proper car seat for their age and size, and that they are buckled in properly.
We can’t predict the behavior of other drivers on the road, but we can make a conscious effort to stay more alert on the road, avoid distractions, and take all proper safety precautions to lessen our chances of a severe injury if an accident does happen.